Photos by Collin Richie

The Creatives: Illustrator Nathaniel Landry

Nathaniel Landry

Hometown: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Age: 48
Artistry: Illustrator, graphic artist
Online: @alphonse_jozeff on Instagram

If not for the furniture and bed, Nathaniel Landry’s apartment would feel like a space wantonly evolving into an art gallery. His own richly colored illustrations and skateboard decks are all over the walls. The Southern and Savannah College of Art & Design alum’s work is separated only by a few kanji-splashed samurai movie posters, and one-sheets for Blade Runner and Tron, all lasers and neon reflecting the artist’s current psyche and the youth he spent soaking up every ounce of dark science fiction and otherworldly anime possible.

Roving from room to room, Landry is a live wire of energy. Every sentence out of his mouth feels like a story, its own volume stuffed with memory and emotional charge. That force flows into his art, angular pen-and-ink and watercolor mazes that bend and build toward beautifully curved faces of strength and focus. Mythical centerpieces with eyes that shine.

His mother was a teacher, and his dad remains an artist—an illustrator and wood sculptor who studied under icon Frank Hayden. Landry ended up following both of his parents’ paths in his own way.

“One thing that’s weird about me,” he says with a sly pause. “Whenever I mess up, I get so fired up to go right back in it, I think, ‘I can’t sleep knowing it went down like that. We’re going to get something done.’”

Standing in his kitchen at a light table, Landry flips through eight drafts of his latest piece. At the top of one page is his handwritten note of reassurance: Remember you are not perfect. You will make mistakes. Don’t worry about the mistake. Find the best and most efficient way to fix it.

All kinds of things can happen when he’s working. The ruler could be off. The pen might slide. The paper texture can’t quite be caged.

“Art is about problem solving,” Landry says. “I always had this sense of perfection, and that can work for a while, but it’ll catch up to you. You have to forgive yourself.”

The work at hand is his limited-edition skate deck titled A Prayer Before Armageddon. A collaboration with Ellemnop co-founder Keidrick Alford, it features a figure fully clothed in armor, complete with a face mask, and strong of spirit, ready for anything.

It’ll be scanned and finalized digitally in what is a first-time process for Landry. He and Alford are going to Vivid Ink tomorrow to discuss printing details for the decks.

“The name of the piece is so important,” Alford says. “We all need a prayer right now. We’re going to survive by connecting
and loving one another, and that’s what this piece represents to me.”

The hopefulness in Landry’s work resuscitates his influences running from underground 1990s Japanese cinema to the beaches near Savannah, Georgia, and from the electronic rock of Radiohead to his deep-rooted faith.

“It’s not really intentional,” Landry says of art and faith colliding. “It’s more ethereal and organic. Because I realize that God is an artist. He’s a creator.”